late nights, fortune cookies, and laughter

The time is now 11:27 pm, also known as “past Ashley’s bedtime,” but I know that I’m only going to have this amount of free time without homework for 6 more days, so I’m taking advantage of the extra blogging time.

Just a few minutes ago, I found out that my sister is going to be living in an apartment above a fortune cookie factory in the big city where she’s doing her internship.  I’m wondering if she’ll become pithy and concise with her words of wisdom after that.  If the trend of jamming advice and the future into one clever sentence will permeate the floor and become part of Brooke’s speech.

“Hey, Brooke!  How’re you?”

“Happiness is found along the way, not at the end of the road.”

“Yeah, but I just wanted to know how you are-”

“Your everlasting patience will be rewarded sooner or later.”

“Can you stop-”

“Don’t ask. Don’t say. Everything lies in silence.”

“Will you just-”

“A single kind word will keep one warm for years.”

Hopefully that doesn’t happen, because she’d frustrate her bosses.

The fortune cookies I’ve gotten the past few times I’ve dined at an Asian establishment haven’t really been fortunes.  They were the kind that tell you your talents or mention that you are good at keeping friends.

Not that I rely on fortune cookies to tell me what’s going to happen, but I just think that they should be true to their name: telling fortunes.

It’s time for an honesty check.  Here’s something real: I didn’t feel like doing anything today.  The humidity and my lack of good quality sleep (I had a really disturbing dream!) made my inner couch potato rise up and say remember those cookies in the freezer?  remember how good they taste while you sit on your butt and do nothing?  Doesn’t that sound like a good plan for today? But I had told someone I’d work for them today, so that was an incentive to get up and leave the house.  And immediately after that, a 3-hour volleyball practice beckoned.  So I dragged myself over there and jumped around for a while.

I had made plans to go visit my friend who lives about half an hour away and to pick up another friend on the way, and I was excited to see them.  But there was a big part of me saying groaning that sitting on the couch and staying home sounded like fun – but I’d go and enjoy it anyways.

I more than enjoyed it.  For one thing, there was cheesecake, but I’m also glad I went because I haven’t laughed that hard in weeks.  There are different stages of laughter for me; the most intense one sounds like I’m a dying mouse since my gasps for air sound like squeaks.  And I probably look like I’m weeping.  But at that point, I don’t care, because I’m adding years to my life by laughing.

I’ll give you the moral to the story before I take my tired self to bed: Sometimes, our lazy human nature tells us that solitude is the best way to recuperate after a long day.  And sometimes that’s valid.  But, the company of godly people – who are very funny, by the way – is one of the most invigorating experiences.  I think Satan uses exhaustion to make us hole up in our houses and to neglect to meet with people who have the capacity to pour God’s love into our lives.  Then we get into a cycle of being without fellowship and accountability – which never ends well.

On that note, I am going to bed.

for the record

Last night, as we stood side by side, I brushed my teeth.  She washed her face.  No words spoken, just the swish swish of the toothbrush on my teeth and the splash of water hitting her face.  This morning, after I woke up the second time, I brushed my teeth alone.  I didn’t go in the empty room that’s across the hall from mine, because I didn’t want to cry.

It’s a happy thing; she’s branching out into a new city with new people and new experiences.  She’ll have a job, an apartment, a life all her own.  She’ll Skype or call once a week, if things aren’t too busy.  That city is a better place for having her there.

But now I’m without her, an only child again, for all intensive purposes.  At restaurants, it will be a table for three.  When I grab four forks to set the table, I’ll have to put one back.  My default companion for little shopping trips and running errands is buying her own groceries in a big city.

My sister, the one who worries about not getting every task on her to-do list done and organizes everything and bakes with my apron on and cleans compulsively, boarded a plane to her future this morning.  My only sister, the one who left me a card in the bathroom today so that I’d find it when I woke up and texted me telling me that she made it through security and knows me better than any other person on the planet, is taking steps to figure out what God has in store for her.

two people I miss dearly.

But it used to be like this.  BrookeandAshley was practically one word.  Package deal.  Shared toys.  Shared baths.  Shared house.  Shared playtime.  Shared life.  Best friend.

But, actually, that last thing has never changed.  It’s nice to find people who don’t know your history sometimes; so you can have a fresh start with them, be the person you want to be, the one who doesn’t have that past – But that person doesn’t have best friend capacity. Good friend, yes.  Great friend, yes.  Sister?  NO.  (best friend and sister are synonymous for me)  Brooke knows my heart, my soul, my brain, my sense of humor, my quirks.  She knows my moods, how I clam up when I’m nervous …or crabby.

Now Brooke and Ashley have to be separate words, existing in separate lives.  We have to be individuals, pursuing our chosen paths but not neglecting to walk on each others’ every once in a while.  The fact that Brooke and I would never really be residents of the same household didn’t hit me until her second year of college.   (That is, unless she agrees to be roommates after I graduate college.)

This is the way life goes: things and people change and move and take on a different role in our lives.  The playmate season of life is over for Brooke and me.  Now, we begin a stage where our relationship is determined by how deliberate we are about communication.  It’s a healthy change, one that shows that we are growing up.  Brooke and I both know that change is the catalyst for growth, and we want to grow, so we welcome change.

Welcome, Change.

The house feels empty right now, mostly because it’s rainy outside – so if Brooke were home, she would be washing dishes and baking a cake and putting away laundry and watching a movie with Alex.  But instead, my mom naps upstairs while I blog downstairs.  The kitchen and Brooke’s room are empty.  And if I get makeup all over the bathroom counter again, it will stay there until I clean it up.

I miss you, Brooke.  I miss your stressed out ramblings and our late night conversations about all things pertaining to living.  I miss getting ready for bed together and hearing you turn off your light at night.  But I know that you are where you need to be.  I know that God has something in store for you that neither of us could have dreamed up.  And I also know that I don’t need to worry about you – and neither do you – because you’re in good hands.

Eventually, being apart will become the norm.  Eventually.

Brooke. Future editor.

fairy tales and reality.

fairy tale: If I took the time to organize my entire room, I would be able to keep it clean much easier.

reality: It would take weeks to organize my room entirely. And by the time I got the last bit organized, the first bit would be a mess.  My life is a cycle of attempted organization.

fairy tale: If I put it on my “to-do” list, it will get done.

reality: I put things of highest priority on my to-do list, and I end up doing lower priority things that aren’t on the list.  Thus, I never check things off of my list.

fairy tale: I don’t have any clothes!  (this is what I think whenever I look at my closet, dresser, or the drawers under my bed.

reality: when I finally went through my closet, I found a whole bunch of clothes that had gotten pushed away from the front.  I feel like I just went shopping, but my wallet is still happy.

fairy tale: Cinderella and her prince would work out.  The fair lady who was locked in a tower lived happily ever after with the knight who rescued her.

reality: There were probably quite a few arguments, misunderstandings, big blowout fights, and compromises required to make that happily ever after even become a possibility.

Have you ever thought about how different a knight would be from the fair lady he’s rescuing from a tower where she’s been guarded by a dragon for the past 5 years?  (This morning, after my pastor mentioned something about “happily ever after”, I got to thinking about this.)

Let’s make a list of all the differences.

1) Mr. Knight is a bachelor.  Not only a bachelor, but one who has been living with a whole bunch of other knights learning how to slay dragons.

2) Fair Lady has been living in solitude for the past few years.  She’s probably either incredibly shy from the lack of human interaction or a time bomb ready to explode from pent up conversation.

3) Mr. Knight has an insane sense of duty.  He will ride on his horse thousands of miles to this tower to rescue Fair Lady, just because he feels an obligation to do so.

4) Fair Lady has had absolutely no responsibility for anyone but herself these past few years.  She probably has no inclination to do the things that a housewife is expected to do – maybe she doesn’t even know what society asks of a knight’s wife.

5) The knight is a dude whose been trained for war.  He is anything but gentle and charming.

6) Fair Lady is just that… fair, and a lady.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

And apparently when Mr. Knight rescues Fair Lady from her tower, it’s supposed to be so romantic, like when he bursts into her tower room – probably smelling slightly burnt and sweaty, all clad in his heavy, unattractive armor – it’s love at first sight (which I, for one, do not believe in.  Maybe attraction at first sight, but not love).  Who knows if he’s required to actually proposed or if it’s an assumption that when someone rescues you like that you automatically get hitched?  The flaws with this story are endless.

Which is sad, because it’s sweet.

If the knight was really the chivalrous type of knight that they were supposed to be, and not like most of the other knights of his time, and if he was a gentle and kind guy, he might be able to sweep Fair Lady off of her feet – an action that assumes that Fair Lady has been able to exercise and eat healthily during her time in the tower.  And if Fair Lady is sensible and has a good head on her shoulders, maybe she’s kept verbal by having conversations with people who aren’t actually with her – without losing her mind.

Okay, maybe sometimes it could happen.

Maybe the fairy tale could be reality.

Maybe the relationship could still work out, even with such glaring differences.


the power of: a good movie, a good nap, and too much good food

I haven’t seen a movie that made me cry since I watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas a few years ago.  Something about those Holocaust movies gets me every time.  I think it’s the human rights activist in me that gets a punch in the stomach watching the dehumanization and horrible treatment.

So I cry.

I’ll preface the statement to come by saying that I am not a crier. Let me reiterate that point: I am not a crier.  I only cry like once every two months, and I have to be alone and either really angry or really depressed.  And really hormonal.  BUT, while watching The Help with my family yesterday, I almost cried 5 times.  (Yes, I kept track.) Then, when Skeeter’s mother told her – after reading her book – that she had never been more proud of her, I actually lost it.  The moment was so sweet, so justifying.  The music sang triumph.  Finally, Skeeter was good enough for the mother who just wanted her to get a man, and she hadn’t been trying to be good enough.  She had been living up to her convictions and doing hard things that required courage.

People should make more movies like that and fewer about unrealistic, explicit love affairs between successful people who really wouldn’t fit each other at all in real life.  This is my official petition for people to make more movies about things that matter, because I have walked away from that movie thinking.  Not laughing or talking about how cute the main character was, but thinking.  Thinking about how Skeeter’s courageous, convicted, unselfish character reminds me of what I want to be.  It was inspirational without a bit of cheesiness.  It wasn’t sappy.  I went through the whole movie without wanting to slap any character for saying something dumb.

Totally worth the $10.50 my parents had to pay per ticket since it was a Friday night.

Thanks, Mom and Daddy.

I woke up at 6:45 this morning for one reason:

Mini donuts.

That’s right, folks.  I went to the one and only Minnesota State Fair today and walked around the crowded streets of the fairgrounds for one purpose: fried food.

And we found it all right.  As any Minnesotan knows, the Fair is the king of fried things on a stick: candy bars, pickles, sirloin steak, Twinkies, pizza.  And then they have a ton of fried things that are not on a stick: deep fried apple pie with cinnamon ice cream (Brooke and I split that one), french fries, mini donuts (do you know how much sugar is on those things?? It’s heavenly!), cheese curds and all other things fried and wonderful.  I definitely ate more than I should have and spent far too much money on things that I didn’t need nutritionally.

It’s a social thing, okay?  The Fair connects us as Minnesotans, as we share our love for fried food, things on a stick, our political candidates, our radio stations, and the great state that we inhabit.

Then we go home and even though the guilt of what we’ve eaten has hit us, it took us a while to get out to our car and ride the free bus to the parking lot, and another half hour to get home from there… so we’re hungry again.  But this time the contents of the fruit drawer are hauled out, and veggies and dip replace grease and more grease and sugar and fat.  And after refueling, the hour at which we awoke hits us, and a good nap is in order.

on the shuttle bus, pre-fried

And after that, my calendar was asking to be updated, so I did that.

Here’s proof:

And made no-bake cookies…

And sent them away in a care package to California :)

who doesn't like fairy wrapping paper?

let’s talk about cars.

Oh, wait, I know next to nothing about cars.

I drive a manual transmission, however, which I think qualifies me to at least talk the basics.  I know that cars drink gas (enough to keep my checking account at a solid $0), you use your feet to make it go, and when you eat french fries while driving you run the risk of getting salt all over your steering wheel.  I know how to check the oil – I wouldn’t know what to do if there wasn’t enough, but I can check it!  I know that when I keep my RPMs down I can get 40 miles per gallon, and I know that when winter comes around I’ll be spending quite a lot of time scraping ice and snow off of my car, which is more of a Minnesota weather fact, but it definitely relates to Audrey.

I had to stop on a hill today, a steep one.  For those of you who don’t drive stick, this means that I have to be very careful with my clutch/gas pressure ratio, otherwise I could kill the car.  Or I could rev my engine and make everyone think I need a new muffler.  I went with the first option, but, since it was a very steep hill, I killed the car.

It’s one of those things that happens very infrequently, but every single time it happens there is a mean guy in an SUV behind me who honks at me immediately, as if I could speed up the process of restarting my car.  Well, I’m sorry buddy.  This happens sometimes.  I don’t like it any more than you do, but you need to just CHILL.  

I talk to the other drivers while I’m driving, and everyone is “buddy”.

Today, while I was driving, I passed a car pulled over on the side of the freeway with its hazards on, and beside it was a man holding a tire.  Poor guy must’ve had a flat, and it looked like he was alone.

Begin internal dialogue:

I wonder if he knows how to fix that.

I bet he does.

Is there someone else in the car who can help him?

I wonder if he needs help.

I wonder if I should help.

I know absolutely nothing about changing a flat.  I would be of absolutely no help.

Does he have a cell phone?

Who doesn’t have a cell phone?!

Well, maybe he doesn’t.  Maybe he needs someone to call a tow truck.

Maybe I should stop.

Woah, hold up, I’m a seventeen-year-old girl.  I’m driving alone.  I’m vulnerable.

But he looks nice, and God can protect me.

Bu isn’t it kind of dumb to subject myself to danger?

But if I don’t, does that mean I don’t trust God?

Am I over thinking this?  Should I have just known to stop or not stop?  

And by that point, I was past him.  Passed without stopping.  It wouldn’t have been a convenient time for me to stop either way, because my sister was at home waiting for me to bring the car to her – I was in a hurry.  But does that matter?  That guy could have been in a hurry too.  He could have been on his way to work, and now he’ll be late.  People aren’t always going to need help when its convenient for me to offer it; that’s just the way things are going to be.  That shouldn’t stop me from helping him.

But then again, part of me wonders if there wasn’t some better-equipped Christian driving down the freeway today.  Someone who knows how to change flats and has a cell phone and has great people skills and maybe owns a towing company and could be a better representation of Jesus than I could be.

But then again, God never asks us to do something that He doesn’t consider us equipped for.

And that begs the question, did I say no to God?

All because some guy on the road had a flat.

I’m not done thinking about this.

I’m working on two computers at the moment, trying to transfer the last of my music from Larry (demon-possessed) to Chloe (computer whiz).  You can see the two keyboards here, the two mouses, the trackpad, and both printers if you look hard enough.  It’s like I Spy!

my wonderful volleyball girls :)

I have a serious addiction to no-bake cookies. and 30 seconds after this picture was taken, this container was empty.

By the way, if you were wondering, the Twins lost shamefully badly last night.

But we had fun at the game anyways.

way up in the nosebleeds, with a superb view of a disappointing game. oh well, I still love my Twins. :)

the Christmas spirit of an idealist… in August

Two-year-olds are so funny.  Really.  I asked one to pick out one last book to read before bed, and she brought over a Charlie Brown Christmas. 

Little cutie doesn’t know that it’s August. 

So, we read about how Charlie Brown can never seem to do anything right, and how in the end, he was the one who realized that there had to be more than what the others were celebrating.  And I started to wish for Christmas.

In Minnesota,winters are harsh and unforgiving… and long.  And usually by Christmastime we have at least a foot of snow and windchills that do just that… chill you. 

The Christmas I’m picturing in my head takes place walking down a lighted city street at night.  Snow is falling gently to the ground, and it’s only cold enough for your cute winter coat – no heavy duty attire needed here.  Store windows are lighted up, and I have a full wallet to shop for all those on my Christmas list.There’s a manger scene in one of the shop windows, and people aren’t in any hurry to purchase their gifts, because there are two weeks til Christmas still. 

The streets aren’t crowded, and Christmas carols are being played through the speakers in the planters – covered by snow at this point.  Since I’m dreaming, I’ve also found the perfect pair of high heels – not too high since no one appreciates it when I’m 6’3” – that click as I stroll happily down the sidewalk, carrying three big paper shopping bags, all containing things for my family.

When I know someone well, there is nothing I like better than picking out a gift for them. Not just going to Target and having a grumpy cashier load $15 onto it so they can get whatever they want.  It’s a hunt for me.  A thrilling one.

So, now that I’ve had this whole Christmas daydream, I’ll get back to this muggy day. I’m not going to wish for snow yet.

set fire to the rain, awakening, and sunroofs

I was just thinking to myself as I cruised around in my dad’s little blue car and a sunroof about how cool I felt, driving in this sleek coup.  Then I tried to close the sunroof and got my hair stuck in it.

God likes to keep me humble.

Today, I spent my time waiting in line, eating Italian food, smiling for the camera, eating salsa, and losing at hearts.  I also remembered how much I love that Trader Joe’s has tons of dark chocolate covered things there.  I see a shopping trip in my future.

Today, my pastor was talking about having a heart transformation and how that is the only way to keep our tongues in check.  He mentioned the word “awakening” – which, of course, initially brought to mind the Switchfoot song – which I realized paints a very clear and accurate picture of spiritual growth.

At least if you wake up like I do.

My morning begins with my alarm going off, as many other people’s mornings also begin.  Since I’ve learned that a beeping noise or any common alarm tone just gets the crabbiness going sooner, I use my phone alarm and rotate using ringtones of my favorite songs.  Alarm number 1 goes off, and if my fuzzy brain can remember which button is snooze, I press it and get another five minutes.  Alarm number 2 goes off after five, and my hand – having rehearsed the motion once already – presses “snooze” once again. Depending on how tired I am and if the thing I’m getting up for is exciting or not, this might happen again.

But there comes a time for all of us – even the most adamantly not-morning people – when we have to actually get out of bed.  I’m fortunate enough to have direct access to my bathroom from my room, so that’s my first stop – to take out my retainers and contacts. (yes, I wear contacts only at night.  it’s an amazing phenomenon called Corneal Refractive Therapy or CRT.  Google it.)  My sleepy brain provides me with a one-track mind, guided by routine. take pill.  get coffee.  get cereal/muffin/breakfasty item.  go back to room.  find a place for the coffee to sit.  sit back on/in (depending on how cold my room is) bed.  get Bible.  commence read/eat sequence. Think about what I’ve read.  Talk to Jesus for a bit.  Ask self if I can be pleasant to people yet.  And if the answer to that last question is “yes” or at least “possibly”, then I come out of my cave and greet the world…  or at least my mom, who is usually sitting in her favorite spot on the couch with her book or her iPod.

There was a point to that long-winded account of my typical morning, I promise.  Did you notice how long it took for me to become even slightly awake and how many things were required to help me reach that point?  Do you see how that’s like spiritual growth?

Maybe I’m the only one who grows slowly.  It’s not a halting process necessarily, but it’s slow!  Maybe other people hear something, read something, get a revelation about something and their life is changed from that moment on.  It’s probably my over thinking mind that is to blame, examining all the facets of the growth so I know exactly what’s going on.

I might be biased, but I think that slow growth is just fine.  Maybe even great.  The awareness of the fact that things are changing is key for me, knowing that my heart is being formed into something that glorifies God gets my brain on board with the plan.  It’s like remodeling a house, sort of.  Most people can’t change everything all at once because – let’s face it – we’re not made of money.  So we focus our attention into one room of the house at once, making it new and clean and presentable to the world.

Remodeling. Growing.  Awakening.

My heart, His remodeled home.

On a completely different note, I have finally acquired 21, by Adele, and it makes me want to sing with as much vigor and power as I possess… which isn’t that much, to be honest. She’s one of the few female singers who has a range that’s low like mine.  But then, when I get going at the top of my lungs, I realize that I sound nothing like her, so I just get wistful and admire her vocal prowess.



Writing from the heart

Usually when I answer the phone the person on the other end hesitates, then says, “Debbie?”… which is my mom’s name.  Or they say, “Oh, hi, Brooke!”

Nope, it’s Ashley.

Sometimes they just pretend that they know which one of us it is until they figure it out by the content of the conversation, and often they give themselves away.

There is one woman, however, who never has to ask which one of us it is.  She always replies with a “Well, hello Ashley” as though her day is better just for talking to me.  As though there should be no question to who I am, that my voice is distinct enough for someone who knows me well to discern.

Grandmas are special people; there is no question about that.

The memories I have of Grandma and Granddaddy’s house in Longview, Texas – before they moved to Oklahoma – are some of the most poignant and vivid ones that I have from those ages: Grandma letting us feed all the heels of the bread to the ducks at the pond by their house, Granddaddy helping me use the baby blue Mickey Mouse fishing pole to reel in an empty hook most times, the times when each of them acted as an ATM for us grandkids.

I remember sitting near Grandma’s kitchen while she washed dishes and hearing her sing, “You are my strength when I am weak.  You are the treasure that I seek.  You are my all in all.”  I never hear that song without thinking of her.  Not only a song she sang, but a tune to which she lives her life.

I wish I could remember the instances photographed and filed away in our photo albums where Granddaddy has me in his lap and is reading to me.  I wish I could bottle those memories and pull them out so I wouldn’t miss him so much.  I remember once, at our family cabin in Colorado, when I was probably in first or second grade, and it was Granddaddy’s birthday.  My cousin, Alayna, and I – knowing how much Granddaddy liked peanuts – decided that a good gift for him would be to take the peanuts that we used to feed the chipmunks (that Granddaddy had probably bought) from the big community bucket and wrap them up in napkins.  We gathered up all our supplies and hid in a closet to complete the task.  We thought it was a great idea, that we were giving him a gift based on the things he liked.

Sometimes God prepares us for things that we still aren’t ready for when they come.  I was visiting Grandma and Granddaddy in April of 2009 for Easter, also seeing our cousins and other relatives who live nearby.  I’m not sure what spurred the action, but I spent a solid two hours asking Granddaddy about his life in college and working out on the oil rigs and at Marathon where he worked as a petroleum engineer.  I sat on the big corduroy chair in his office, a room stuffed full of books – probably his favorite companions aside from Grandma – hearing him tell the stories behind the pictures, not knowing that I wouldn’t get another chance to ask him again.

It’s a beautiful memory for me.  I think that the action of hearing his life story, of being able to carry it with me, makes me aware that I also carry his life’s legacy.   That words are precious and that sincerity is priceless.  That wisdom is gained over time and experience, through trials and pursuit of truth.

I could have no better role models than the ones God has given me in my family.  After Granddaddy died, Grandma started keeping a journal of all the ways God has been good to her, the ways he provided for her and showed her that He was with her – holding her steady in a time where little seemed certain.  She didn’t want to forget God’s faithfulness to her, and I’ve held on to that as well.  That God is faithful.  Remembering those many instances where God said, “this is why you trust me.  because I follow through, even when you don’t ask.”

One of the hallmarks of being at Grandma’s house is the plethora of desserts that she pulls out of the freezer after every meal.  “Oh, well I just have a few things I baked if anyone’s interested.”  Six tupperware containers are placed on the counter, and oh, we are interested!  The feeding frenzy ensues while Grandma starts cleaning – and my mom and aunt try to make her sit down and let them help.

Last summer we had a family reunion at the cabin.  There was an empty spot in the group without Granddaddy, but all of our reminiscing kept him with us.  After our time there, I rode back to Oklahoma with Grandma to spend a few days at her house.  Not an hour after we got to her house, we went grocery shopping where she encouraged me to pick out whatever I wanted to eat.  The pollen had been all over the place in the mountains, so my allergies had started acting up, making my throat sore and nose run.

Feeling sick anywhere else will never even begin to compare to feeling sick at Grandma’s.  “You just have a seat, and I’ll bring you some tea.”  So I sit in the blue recliner that was Granddaddy’s favorite napping chair and watch Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novel being shown on PBS while she makes me a tray with a mug of tea and honey to sweeten it… and one of the desserts from a tupperware in the freezer eventually comes over too.  If anyone was every given a spiritual gift of hospitality, it is my Grandma.

Family is a treasure.  If my heart is a box, with room in it for all the people I love, Grandma and Granddaddy take up a significant portion.

Sweet are the memories to which I cling.

2 to go and swimming in solitude

I had a friend tell me once that she thinks that the only reason people read my blog is because of the catchy titles.


Then she clarified that it was the draw to read my blog.  Which makes sense.

People stay that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I definitely do.  I judge it by the title. If the author has picked something cliché or drenched in alliteration, I usually avoid it.  So, the irony of the situation is in the fact that I’ve got alliteration in my post’s title.  Hey, we all have a little hypocrisy every now and then; I wish it was always in the small things.

In other news, once two more people have clicked on one of my catchy titles and viewed my page, I’ll be at 1,000 views.  Not that it’s really a big deal how many people view it. ( but, hey, it’s kind of exciting)  So, congratulations, to the 1,000 viewer… you probably won’t know who you are.

School starts in a smaller number of days than I’d like, so I decided to start going to bed earlier.  This would have been a smart plan, except I’m used to going to bed around midnight – which maybe isn’t that late, but for me, a girl who needs a solid 8 hours every night in order to be remotely pleasant the next morning, it might as well be 3 am – so I’ve been having difficulty falling asleep these past couple nights.

So, I read a solid 100 pages of my book.  I’ve finished The Help in three days because of this.

there it is, the book that's been my pre-sleep companion these past three nights.

Last night, I was thinking about how being alone in a quiet house (can you tell what was going on as I was thinking this?) is like swimming.  Solitude – like being completely immersed in water, unable to hear what’s going on above you.  You really can’t be caught up in other people’s business… unless you’re a lifeguard. Then I suggest that you make other people’s survival the only thing you think about when you’re underwater.

Isn’t it true though?  The times when I’m all alone in my house, with only the noises of the air-conditioner and whatever other sounds I choose to make to occupy my auditory organs, I’m immersed in my thoughts.  When I’ve got something chewy to cogitate on, this is a good thing.  When I’m brain-dead because of either too much thinking or too much talking, this makes me wish for coffee.

I think I like solitude.  In moderation.  That’s my mantra about practically everything.  As far as preferences go, if it’s anything other than chocolate, pizza, or Jesus, I like it in its time and place… in moderation… in balance.  I’m not a person to enjoy overdoing anything: solitude, company, walking, running, eating (well, maybe I overdo that sometimes…), chatting, texting (goodness, I would throw my phone away if it wasn’t a convenient way to talk on occasion), studying, reading, computering.

Even blogging.  But, I have to say, blogging can take up quite a large amount of my time before I get sick of it.  It may not be exactly a noble pursuit, may not have much of a purpose to anyone other than myself – though I hope it does.  It’s just the fact that it’s writing.  And writing is so multi-faceted: grammar, creativity, vocabulary, personal experience, allusion, humor.  It fits me and my moderating personality.  a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  like baking what-the-heck cookies.

the help, what-the-heck cookies, and happy feet

new insoles - they make my feet feel like a million bucks.

You know that movie about the penguin who lives in a colony of musical penguins, but he likes to dance?  Happy Feet?  It was probably one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen – not counting the Strawberry Shortcake movie or the Wiggles – but the title completely describes how my new insoles make me feel.

I never thought I could feel so affectionate towards something other than a shoe itself. (and people, the normal object of affection. )  These insoles are so supportive of whatever activity I choose to do, they’re cute and lime green, and they fit perfectly in my shoes.

And that wraps up the ode to my insoles.

I’v e been a little behind the rest of the literary world since I JUST started reading The Help two days ago.

And I’m hooked.

Not only does Kathryn Stockett have the dialect and the perspectives of both the two maids and the white writer down, but she’s practically writing what I want my life story to be.  No, I don’t want to be a maid.  That wouldn’t really be a good fit since my room is in a crazy disarray most of the time.  No, she’s writing about a writer who is concerned about the way things are.  She’s going against a social norm and risking everything to tell a story that needs to be told.

There are so many stories in this world that need to be told. they need to be told.  And they need to be told in a way that shows that it’s not fiction, that it really happened.

I’ll be real here: Whenever people talk about the persecuted church or about people in third-world countries not having water or about mothers in China who are forced to abort their children because of their gender, I feel the injustice.  I see the gravity, but I fail to grasp the reality.  I can’t even imagine (and I am pretty imaginative) living a life like the ones I hear about.

And so I file it away as fiction.  Not consciously, of course, but if I had two filing systems in my head: reality and things that don’t seem to concern me, all of that far-away, horrendous injustice would be kept in the latter.  Maybe this is my fault, that I don’t expose myself.   Maybe I have fostered in myself a person who can’t accept oppression and need as something that actually occurs.

That bothers me.

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to be a journalist: to travel all over the world (fill up my passport with stamps), hearing people’s stories, and making them known to people in the privileged land of America.  Because it needs to be real.  The way Matthew West put it describes how my life has been:

In my own little world, it hardly ever rains.  I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe.  I’ve got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet.  In my own little world, it’s population: me.

What kind of world is that?  Sure, it’s one that is happy for the most part, has its ups and downs, but is completely unaware that there is hurt out there.  And the answer to someone else’s hurt just might be me.  My $10 could help someone go to school, keep them out of prostitution.  My time spent helping someone make their house a livable home could change the entire course of their life.  To me, they are small things.  To me, it’s just an hour of my time or a portion of my paycheck.

Or two weeks in India.

There are no words for the draw and the calling that I feel.  I’m not always this sure about what God wants me to do, but I know this time.  I just do.  When I met with one of our contacts at the EFCA ministry, she confirmed it as well, telling me that it WILL happen, that she can tell that I want to go, that she knows that God will make a way.

And it will make a change in the way things are.

Just like Skeeter is trying to do.  (I don’t know yet if she’s succeeded, because I’m only halfway through… so NO SPOILERS!)

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I set up a printer today.  Not too hard, but I must say, I’m proud of myself for not having to google anything.  Independent. That’s me.  At least for today.

And I joined Skype:

yay! now I can talk to people that are far away!

And when I got home from volleyball, I made myself a sandwich using the World’s Smallest Spatula – affectionately dubbed by me.

nutella on the left, peanut butter on the right, World's Smallest Spatula pictured center

then I decided to make cookies for the heck of it

mmm, cocoa powder from Penzey's

and here they are, ready to go in the oven - my what-the heck cookies :)

Sometimes I just have to do things when I feel like it, because later I’ll think that I should and not feel like doing it.  Not that cookies are a need here, but, hey, who doesn’t like cookies?

Please don’t answer that if you are among those who don’t like cookies.